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  • Everybody knows what a good song or piece of music does to you.

    I have sung most of my life. At least as long as I remember. So have my husband and my children as well. Estonians are called a ‘singing nation’. Lately so because of the famous Singing Revolution we had – we sung ourselves free from the soviet oppression. How poetic! But actually it is true.

    Our pride and joy are the Song and Dance Festivals (find more information here if you wish). For over a hundred and fifty years (the first over-Estonian Song Festival was held in 1869 and Dance festival in 1934, after that they have been held together) there have been Song and Dance Festivals. We even have a special place for them. And we are proud of this tradition. It was something that helped us endure all the hardships. It helped us to dream that there was still hope for us. Every five years we could come together and show everybody what we thought.

    Of course we had to sing ghastly songs about the communist party and Lenin and our ‘dear Soviet Union’ but every time, when the festival was over and all the choirs were supposed to come down from the stage and go home, we didn’t. We all stood there and started singing songs that were forbidden. That was the best part of the whole festival. And everybody was looking forward to it. You could sense the anticipation. It was in the air, hovering all over the town. Fantastic feeling!

    When the choirs finally finished and started leaving – we felt content. Like we had achieved something, shown something, that in spite of all the red flags at the Song Festival Ground we held our blue-black and white in our hearts. And the victorious feeling when we walked through rows of militia, standing there doing nothing… Well, that really was overwhelming.

    And then came the day we really had blue-black and white flags all over the place and we could sing whatever we wanted – no songs in Russian any more, only Estonian. I still remember the mood we had that day. I always will. It felt like being drunk without drinking. We never hoped this day would come but it did and thanks to music I am able to write my little stories and share them with you, my Cowbird friends.

    Music really does make the world go round.

    (Photo: Song Festival in 2009 – 913 choirs, many from abroad, with 28 166 singers and more than 100 000 spectators on the spot, many followed the broadcast. Considering the population of Estonia is around 1, 3 million we really can be called the Singing Nation)

    (Audio: the first song at the festival, when the fire is being lit - When tens of thousands sing together at once...)

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